Nth Vic Late Summer Roundup

To: "Birding Australia" <>
Subject: Nth Vic Late Summer Roundup
From: "Chris Coleborn" <>
Date: Tue, 28 Feb 2006 19:53:53 +1100
G'day All,

Over these last weeks of summer I have had the opportunity to explore native grassland plains remnants (mostly by night), and the wetlands of Nth Victoria. The grasslands appear to be so lifeless and barren during the shimmering heat of the day, yet to walk over them in the relative cool of the summer's night with a spotlight, reveals a wonder world of almost teeming life. The swamps and lakes are drying out quickly, some are only just mudflats at present, but the diversity of birdlife is at times astounding.

The native grassland remnant areas have been on the Patho Plains (Glassons and Terrick Terrick) and Glassons, and the Avoca Plains (Korrak Korrak and Williamsons). The wetlands have included Richardson's Lagoon, Murphys Swamp, Johnsons Swamp, Gunbower Creek, Pyramid Creek and Lake Murphy.

While there have been some very hot days, the birdlife (and wildlife generally) has been well worth the search and suffering the heat.

Among the plainslands (with the occasional patch of woodland thrown in) birds seen at night have been Stubble Quail (breeding), Little Button-quail (over 50 in a small paddock, with about 25+ being a third to half grown young, Plains-wanderer, Banded Lapwing, Singing Bushlark, Brown Songlark, Richard's Pipit, Sky Lark - all seen up close as they crouch on the ground in the spotlight. Others seen flying around in the night were several Barn Owls. During the day some of these species were also seen including Orange Chats.

In one area we also enjoyed the privilege of finding only the third known site for the critically endangered in Victoria, the 'legless lizard' - the Hooded Scaley-foot . We have found 7 individuals in different areas. There were also a range of other reptiles such as Tessellated Gecko, Blind Snake, Delma inornata (Olive Legless Lizard), Curl Snake & Southern Blind Snake.

The small, beautifully adapted little marsupial, the Fat-tailed Dunnart, with its young observable in its pouch, were also seen, as were a good number of invertebrates, among them such interesting animals being the Grassland Froghopper.

Other birds of the grasslands seen during the day were a range of raptors, including Black-shouldered Kite, Spotted Harrier, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Black Falcon, Peregrine Falcon & Nankeen Kestrel. Among the adjoining remnant woodlands (mainly Black Box) were Owlet-nightjar, Brown Treecreeper, Variegated Fairy-wren, White-winged Fairy-wren, White-browed Babbler, breeding Hooded Robin, White-breasted, Black-faced, White-browed and Dusky Woodswallows, (several of these species were breeding), Southern Whiteface, Grey-crowned Babbler, Bush Stone-curlew & Pied Butcherbird.

A range of more common birds included Zebra Finch, Singing Honeyeater, White-fronted Chat, Australian Magpie etc.

Earlier in summer an Inland Dotterel and a Red-chested Button-quail were also reliably reported in the area.

The wetlands have been even more productive of birdlife. There have been thousands of waders in mid to late summer, mainly Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, but with a sprinkling of Curlew, and Red-necked Stints among them. There have been good numbers of Marsh Sandpipers, Common Greenshank, Red-necked Avocet and Black-winged Stilts. At one place over a dozen Latham's Snipe were flushed in one flock. Among the more rare waders have been up to nine Wood Sandpipers, a Reeve, Golden Plover & Long-toed Stints. There have been also large numbers of the more common waders such as Red-capped Plover and Red-kneed and Black-fronted Dotterels.

Just about every type of duck found in the south can be seen in the area at present, including Blue-billed, Musk, Freckled, Australian Shelduck, Australian Wood, Pink-eared & Pacific Black Ducks, Australasian Shoveler, Grey & Chestnut Teal & Hardhead. Among the grebes, Australasian, Hoary-headed and Great-crested can be seen. Small flocks of Glossy Ibis have been feeding in the shallows too. The Spotted and Spotless Crakes have been relatively easy to sight. There have been good numbers of more ordinary water birds in the area including Brolga, Black-tailed Native-hen, White-faced & Necked Heron, Great & Intermediate Egrets, Yellow-billed & Royal Spoonbills, various of the Cormorants, Swamp Harrier etc. White-breasted Sea-Eagles nested this year at Hird Swamp, and mum and dad and two of the kids are now living at Johnsons Swamp since Hirds has gone dry. Some Brown Quail are often seen around the swamps too.

Probably the best spot up this way at present for water birds is 'Big' Lake Murphy. It is alive with waders and a good range of water birds.

There has been no sign of the Painted Snipe in this area this past spring/summer, though it is good to know they have turned up over Rutherglen/Chilton way.

Looking forward to a good autumn of birding now.


Chris Coleborn,

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